As much as I love a classic Eggs Benedict, I can't help but blame the dish for pigeonholing one of my favorite foods--the poached egg. For addicts like myself, they're not only brunch's star attraction, they're also the perfect topping for most any pasta dish, sandwich, or green vegetable. That said, it's pretty essential to be able to achieve a perfectly runny yolk whenever the craving hits.
After years of sometimes-success with the traditional vortex method (where boiling water and white vinegar are swirled into a vortex that keeps the egg together), I decided it was time to put some poaching cups to the test. What I happily discovered was that when you find a good set of poachers, you can get a perfect egg 10 out of 10 times--and better yet, they can serve a slew of other purposes, too.
Not all poachers are created equally, though--after some trial and error, my bets lie solidly on the HotSpot Eggshell Silicone Egg Poacher. Available online and at most independent kitchen stores, like Kitchen Arts in Boston or Broadway Panhandler in New York, for under $10 a set, they're as easy on the eye as they are on the stove. Simply grease with cooking spray, crack in an egg, and float in two to three inches of boiling water, covered. Five minutes later, you'll have perfectly gooey, picture-perfect results that slide right out of their silicone cups.
The best part? They're not limited to eggs. Use them for making timbales, steaming veggies, or get really creative by pressing in alternating layers of vanilla ice cream, mango sorbet, and rum-berry purée for individual frozen terrines.